Ethanol plant planned near Biotown

Ethanol plant planned near Biotown

A South Dakota-based company is planning to build an ethanol plant just outside the northern Indiana town dubbed Biotown USA by state officials for a project aimed at using renewable sources to provide all its energy.

The White County commissioners are expected on Monday to consider a request to rezone about 270 acres to allow construction of the plant proposed by VeraSun Energy Corp. The company plans to produce 110 million gallons of fuel from about 39 million bushels of corn a year at the plant, which is to have about 60 workers.

Reynolds Town Council President Charlie VanVoorst said VeraSun was an ideal company to build the plant.

“I think the economic benefits outweigh any negatives,” he said. “It fits perfect into what we’re trying to do over there with Biotown.”

The Biotown plan promoted by the state Department of Agriculture calls for construction of a plant that would use manure and other biomass material to generate electricity for the 500-person town about 20 miles north of Lafayette. It also is promoting the use of E85, which is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum-based gasoline, for vehicles.
Some residents told the county Plan Commission this week that they worried about unwanted odors from the ethanol plant and its environmental impact.

Betty Kleyla, whose daughter lives on a farm next to where the plant would be built, said she regretted the loss of the area’s “rural environment.”

“It’s the smell; it’s the sight. I cannot figure out why they would allow a plant to be so close to the town of Reynolds,” she said. “I say no to the ethanol plant.”

Indiana has at least 18 ethanol plants announced or under construction. In January 2005, the state had just one working ethanol plant.

John Heimlich, president of the White County commissioners, said he expected final approval for the project.

“I think the timing is right for it,” he said. “I hope we can pull it off.”

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